Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Love That Sugar!

Two little girls and a trip to the store. What could be  more fun? The discussion was candy. My two young charges were all excited about the dollar I’d just given each of them. They perused the candy offerings at the local Dollar General and both decided on Mentos. One got strawberry and one got mixed fruit. A whole roll each for sixty five cents.

We didn’t have Mentos when I was a kid, but watching their pleasure as they each paid for their sugary treat brought to mind the candies of my youth. You knew that would happen, didn’t you? See if you remember any of these.

Candy Buttons – These came on a long sheet and were just that.Tiny colored buttons of candy on white paper. Probably our mother made us tear the sheet apart so we could each have a section of “buttons”. It didn’t occur to us dumb kids that they were all the same flavor. It was the color we wanted and often battled over. Then the dilemma of whether to pick or bite them off. That paper could get pretty slobbered up by the time all the buttons were gone if you chose the latter. I was a picker.

Jaw Breakers – Oh, yeah. Your jaw was in real jeopardy if you didn’t take your time with these little cement sugar bombs. You had to suck through the colored outer coating to get the whole deal going. Once that was done the real work began. How many times did you pull it out of your mouth to see how far you had to go to get to the point where you could clamp down and NOT break your jaw? I don’t know if they still make them this way, but in the center, and what they built the jawbreaker around, was a mustard seed. Anybody remember that?

Wax Candy – I loved them all. The lips, the mustaches, the little bottles with a pin dot of colored syrup in them. But my favorite was the orange wax harmonica kind of thing that really played music. Your lips got all sweet as you blew and the music, played badly by all of us, hardly had a chance after you took the first chomp of that wax. When you’d chewed all the sugar out of it you had a ball of flavorless wax to throw at your sister. Music, a sugar high and a cool saliva laced weapon. A three pronged wonder. It just didn't get any better. 

Big Hunk – Be still my heart! Every time I could beg, borrow or (yay) find under the sofa a nickel, off I’d go to the grocery store. It was a fifteen minute hike through several neighborhoods and a vacant lot in cheap flip flops to get there, but it was worth it. In roughly the shape of a ruler and almost as long, this was a vanilla taffy and peanut hunk of paradise. I loved them.Took a good long time to devour and I never shared. When they came out with one covered in chocolate I over the moon. But they may have cost a dime by then so I never got as many.

These candies are still around – except maybe the wax harmonica thingy. But the memories from childhood that are tangled up with them are not for sale – anywhere. I hope my little girls will have similar awesome memories of Mentos or any of the four million other ways there are to sugar kids up. They need that.  

So – what are your favorite childhood sweets and treats?

Image: Free Digital Photos


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Few Short Reviews - Re-reads

More than reading I’ve been re-reading lately. I don’t know if it’s because I’m too lazy to find new reads, need comfort, or can’t remember all the good stuff in those books I’ve laid down and have now picked up again. Some of each, I guess. 

Witness by Whittaker Chambers – Written over 70 years ago and it still chills. Why? Because it’s about Communism and this man’s struggle not only to leave it, but to be a witness against it. The trial of Alger Hiss came ten years after Chambers and his wife fled and then hid from the murderers who would have had them disappear into the night. Ultimately Chambers became a devout Quaker and thereby gained strength for the fight of his life. Richard Nixon was the tenacious bulldog on Chamber's side in that fight. If you want to know what threatened and still threatens our republic today, read this book.

All Creatures Great and Small  by James Herriot – Ah, the comfort factor. I’ve read this and Herriot’s other books three and four times and they never fail to soothe. Or make me weep with laughter. Or nod in sympathy. Who would have thought that cows, pigs, opinionated farmers and quirky dog owners could be such fun? The Yorkshire vet who captured the hearts of millions back in the 70’s still does that for me. I am one of those captured hearts and you could be, too. Or maybe you already are. If so, we should talk.

What’s So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza – Okay, I already know about the greatness of Christianity. But sometimes you need to have that reinforced by brilliant arguments not of your own making. God didn’t make me brilliant, but He's shown me a few who are. I may have to read this book several more times to internalize Mr. D’Sousa’s noble defense of his Lord. Atheist views pale.

I’m seriously resisting the urge to re-read Gone With The Wind. It would be my 7th go round with that one. But I’ve forgotten some of it and it would be nice to have a surge of old feelings come on with the first few chapters. I was sixteen the first time I read it. Maybe my flat stomach would come back, too? Probably not. And, yes, I’ve seen the movie, seen the movie, seen the movie.

So – what have you been reading? Are you a re-reader, too? 

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, June 12, 2017

Guest Blogger - My Sister!

Good Morning! I have a guest post this morning written by my sister, Shari. In honor of Father’s Day and our own father, she writes from the heart about an important facet of child rearing – discipline. Something, perhaps, that is sorely needed now as much as it ever was.  Enjoy her missive and please feel free to comment. We would love that. Blessed Father's Day to all. 

Lucas McCain where are you?
By Sharon Wible

The home of my childhood was prosaic in its structure, provincial in its worldview and moral in its consequences for good and bad behavior.  In the minds of myself and my siblings there were not a lot of questions as to what was acceptable conduct. Punishment was swift and painful and every wrong doing was instantly judged as having been done “on purpose” ruling out the necessity of a jury. All misdeeds went straight to the judge for sentencing.

This method happens to be a very quick way to bring order to a household filled to the brim with children.

EXCEPT, Lucas McCain would disagree and because I loved him, I had to reevaluate the discipline style so feared in my youth.

The Rifleman had the same philosophy as my dad for taking care of bad behavior. BUT he had a lot of help! The bad guys always wore black hats and sneered when they spoke. The good guys wore white hats and were pleasant, happy people.

Lucas had a rapid-fire Winchester.

Over and over again this truth was reiterated; if someone threatened your life you had every right to protect yourself.  When the bad guy drew his weapon, the Winchester meted out judgment pure and true.

With his son, Lucas taught lessons of right and wrong with humor and hope. When the son strayed from the path, justice was given pause as mercy worked its way into the son’s soul. When the natural consequences of misguided actions took their toll, the pain of disappointing his father seemed punishment enough for the boy.

But television fantasy doesn’t play too well in the lives of non-scripted people in the real world. My dad didn’t own a gun and there were no evident criminals running loose. Dad also understood his children were not “evil” in the truest sense of the word. But at the end of a long and harried day at work with mom at the stove and kids running wild; order was necessary and swift correction cut short a longer war.

If love and respect for the father has been cultivated, disappointing dad will often be deterrent enough to keep the bad deeds at bay.

Thank you Lord for fathers!

Image: Our mom, Elaine and our dad, Wendell. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tell Your Stories

The question went around the table, “What person would  awe  you the most if you were to meet them?” Furrowed brows and half smiles appeared then slowly the names, memories and stories came out.

“Kenny Rogers took my hands and looked right at me,” she said and began to laugh. The thrill of it still made her eyes light up.

“I met Arthur Ashe,” chimed in another. “He helped form our city kid tennis program.”

"I’d like to meet Angela Merkle,” said the person across from me.  “I didn’t think I liked her until I read her life story.”

On it went with each of us touching on encounters with the famous or a voiced  hope for that to happen. It took a good hour to get it all out, but at a rainy Memorial Day picnic it was a good way to pass the time and get to know these bits about each other’s lives.

A similar thing often happens at our family dinner table. Stuffed to the gills – actually I’m the only one with gills – and ready to talk, the car stories are unwrapped and thrown down. With four men chiming It’s a hoot to listen to all the ways a good car can go bad. Like . . .

Middle son had a Frankenstein green Toyota when he was a teen. Unless it was a Honda. Hmm. Anyway, it had wonky spark plugs that “popped” as he rode along. If you ran your eye along the edge of the hood, you could actually see the fiery little explosions. “No big deal, Mom” was the attitude. Then one day he offered to drive me to work. We were moving along at a good clip when suddenly there were puffs of smoke.

“Um,” I croaked, “does it do this all the time?”

No reply. We pulled into the parking lot and jerked to a stop at the front door. Son leaped out to lift Frankenstein’s hood. Billows spewed forth. “No big deal!” he cried from behind the death fumes. An alarmed co-worker ran for a fire extinguisher and it was all over in a few moments. Son grinned, said, “We’re good” and moseyed back on home while I tried to keep from having a stroke. 

I swear, one of these days, I’m gonna write a car stories book titled, “And We’re All Still Alive!”

Whenever and wherever people gather and begin to share I can’t resist saying, ”Write it down!” Please. You may think no one wants to read your stories, but you’d be wrong.  Life is story. I would give a small ransom to have my mother’s tales from her childhood in northern Minnesota resting somewhere other than in my failing daily memory. As a young girl I spent hours sitting on the edge of her bed listening to her "olden days" adventures. If only she’d written them down, I could wander back there whenever I chose. 

All this is to say that your life  has great potential for enriching other lives whether you think so or not. If you’ve come this far reading my words, why not grab a pen or sidle over to the keyboard and get it out? C’mon, you can do it. Someone, somewhere will sit on his or her own bed some day reading and loving what you’ve written. I promise.

Image: Free Digital Photos